|Broadcast area||Greater Philadelphia (Delaware Valley)|
|Branding||Power 99 FM|
Philly's Hip-Hop and R&B!|
Bangin' Hip-Hop and R&B!
98.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
98.9 HD-2 for Tropical Music
|First air date||1961 (as WPBS)|
|Callsign meaning||W US 1, LIN Broadcasting (former branding and owner)|
|Former callsigns||WPBS (1961–1976)|
(AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C.)
|Sister stations||WDAS, WDAS-FM, WIOQ, WISX, WRFF|
WUSL (98.9 FM), is a mainstream urban radio station, owned by iHeartMedia and licensed to Philadelphia. WUSL broadcasts from a class B signal with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 27,000 watts on 98.9 MHz from a tower located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, and its studios are located in Bala Cynwyd.
In 1961, the 98.9 frequency signed on as WPBS "We're Philadelphia's Bulletin Station", under common ownership with the city's largest daily newspaper at the time, The Evening Bulletin (pre-dating the 1969 existence of television's Public Broadcasting Service). The station was cross-promoted with the newspaper and featured an easy listening format. At one point, WPBS was called "Velvet Stereo".
In 1976, the newspaper sold the station to LIN Broadcasting, which at the time also owned WFIL 560. WPBS changed calls to WUSL, which stood for "US-1", and Program Director Jim Nettleton instituted a Soft Adult Contemporary format mixed with standards which had crossed over to the 1960s/1970s pop charts (e.g. Engelbert Humperdinck, Barbra Streisand, etc.)
On July 3, 1981, the station switched to a "3-in-a-row" country music format as Continuous Country, US-99FM. Two months later, co-owned WFIL switched to a more personality and information-leaning country station. WUSL signed off the country format in the early hours of October 9, 1982, to become a CHR/Urban Contemporary a.k.a. CHUrban station as The All New Kiss 99FM. At this time, LIN Broadcasting was the owner of WUSL.
WUSL branded as "99FM" for a few weeks until late October 1982, when it rebranded as The New Power 99fm. Within months, the station had surpassed WDAS-FM in the ratings. Stations around the country adopted the Power brand (but not always with an Urban, CHUrban or CHR format). WUSL continues to be the dominant urban leader in Philadelphia today.
In 1982, the station began presenting its annual major concert event, "PowerHouse."
EZ Communications, owner of rival WIOQ, purchased WUSL in July 1994.
In February 1997, EZ Communications was attempting to merge with American Radio Systems of Boston, and exchanged its Philadelphia stations, WIOQ and WUSL, plus $10 million, for Evergreen's four FM and two AM stations in Charlotte: WPEG, WBAV (AM/FM), WNKS, WRFX and WFNZ. After the merger, WUSL focused its programming on a younger audience while WDAS served an older demographic.
One of the most well-known programs to air on WUSL was a morning zoo-style show called "The Carter & Sanborn Morning Show" (or "Carter & Sanborn in the Morning"), which was hosted by Brian Carter and Dave Sanborn. The show featured a cast of off-beat characters, all voiced by Sanborn, including wise-cracking horoscope reader "Horace, the Taurus" and fall down drunk blues singer "Lunchmeat Mumford". During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the show was a main draw in Philadelphia among younger members of all demographics. Bill Simpson, who would later host a nighttime show on both incarnations of WJJZ (first at 106.1 and later at 97.5), used the alias Dave Sanborn on the show, which often created confusion with the well-known jazz saxophonist David Sanborn, especially among those who were not regular listeners. The show was briefly revived in 2005 on WDAS after that station dropped Tom Joyner from its schedule.
From 1991 to 1998, Power 99 aired the groundbreaking hip hop show "Radioactive", hosted by Colby Colb. Also on the show were DJ Ran, DJ Cosmic Kev and Robert "Laid Back" Black. Colby Colb started as an intern at the station and following the success of Radioactive went on to host nights (6–10pm), mornings were with Wendy Williams and Dee Lee (The Dream Team). From 2002 until 2011, WUSL had been the only urban contemporary station in Philadelphia, when Radio One's WPHI-FM switched formats to urban contemporary from rhythmic contemporary again.
WUSL was also the home of the controversial Star and Buc Wild Morning Show from late 2005 to May 2006. It was also the home of Miss Jones in the Morning, Shamara – "The Midday Princess" and The POWER 99FM's Hot Boyz with Poochman, Mikey Dredd and Uncle O at night.
The 2013 on air line up consisted of "The Rise N Grind Morning Show" with Mina SayWhat (former DJ of Sirius/XM's The Heat), and Mikey Dredd (former member of the Hot Boyz). SayWhat left the station in December 2017.
WUSL has won numerous awards for its news and public affairs programming, a hallmark of which was their Sunday morning programming. From its inception as Power 99, Sunday morning was dedicated to two public affairs shows: Sunday Morning Live, hosted by longtime news anchor Loraine Ballard Morrill and later Empower Half Hour with Lehronda Upshur. Morrill and Upshur continue to host shows and broadcast news and traffic on other iHeartMedia stations (WDAS, WISX and WIOQ) as programming changes have forced public affairs shows from Power 99 to those other stations.
Awards and honors
The station was one of 10 awarded the 2007 Crystal Radio Award for public service awarded by the National Association of Broadcasters. Winners were honored at the Radio Luncheon on April 17, 2007, during the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Former WUSL personnel
- Mina SayWhat
- Monie Love (Now on Sirius/XM's BackSpin and Morning host at Boom 107.9 Philly)
- Wendy Williams (Now a national TV talk show host)
- Miss Jones
- Klibanoff, Hank; Steven X. Rea (1983-05-08). "Revolution on the FM Band". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. H01.
- "NAB Announces Crystal Radio Awards Winners". National Association of Broadcasters. 2007-04-17.
- WUSL Power 99 official website
- Mike Jackson and the Rap Attack on Power 99 in 1985
- Jo Jo Davis with Flava Flav on the Power 9 at 9 Countdown in 1988
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WUSL
- Radio-Locator information on WUSL
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WUSL